Many of us dream of exchanging our vows outdoors, at one with nature, with the soft glow of the sun on our skin as we gaze lovingly into our significant other’s eyes. However, planning an outdoor wedding requires careful consideration, lest that adoring gaze into your fiancée’s eyes becomes a painful squint as the setting sun blinds you. While you can’t control the elements, these are the things that you can control on your wedding day.
First and foremost, you absolutely must have a backup plan. Having an outdoor wedding can be extremely stressful, with you and your fiancé obsessively checking the weather forecast in the days leading up to the nuptials. Planning for the worst-case-scenario can help ease some of that worry and give you something to fall back on in the event of rain, wind, or an unexpected hurricane. Keep outdoor tents on hand and, just to be safe, consider having your reception indoors and your ceremony outdoors. That way, if it does rain, you can always quickly move your vows inside.
Plan on Your Guests’ Comfort
Being outdoors can be refreshing and invigorating, but after a couple hours, it can start to take its toll on your guests. If the weather is warm, provide shade and cold drinks to them. If it’s a bit chilly, consider a fire pit or outdoor space heaters to warm them back up. Have your appetizers and drinks match up with the weather. Don’t offer hot drinks if it’s warm out, and conversely, consider serving hot appetizers if you’re planning for an autumn outdoor wedding.
Can You Hear Me in the Back?
The acoustics outside can vary greatly, and don’t expect the same quality of sound as you would get from an indoor wedding. The outdoors comes with possible traffic noise, restless wildlife, and wailing babies. Consider renting a sound system with clip-on microphones for you and your future spouse, and set up speakers for those guests in the back. Talk to your DJ, as they may have the equipment that you need and will be happy to help you set it up.
Dealing with the Awkwardness of Bathrooms
As exciting as outdoor weddings are, nobody wants to have to shimmy out of ten layers of organza in a small, claustrophobic porta-potty. It would be even worse to do the shameful shimmy while a line of guests starts to form outside the bathroom because you failed to plan on having enough restroom accommodations for all of them. If possible, keep a public restroom nearby for more dignity, but if that’s not a possibility, consider renting oversized porta-potties and make sure you have plenty for each of your guests. Plan on at least two potties per every ten guests, and It’s always better to err on the side of more.
Even a mild day can quickly become uncomfortable under the glaring sun, so provide plenty of shade for your guests. Planning your vows for sunset would not only be romantic, it can help keep the harsh sunlight out of everyone’s face. Just be certain to know where the sun is in the sky; you don’t want to set up your guests to watch your vows and first kiss as bride and groom with sunlight hitting them right in the eyes.
When your wedding day comes, the weather may be in your favor, with a cool breeze and a warm (but not too hot!) day. Or, on the other hand, it may feel as though you’re being smote by the wedding powers-that-be with torrential rainfall and gusting wind. Regardless of the weather, at the end of the day, you’ll be married and the weather will be a nonissue – and it just may be a story you look back on with a laugh… twenty years later!